Extending the term of copyright in a Photograph – Recognizing the rights of photographers?

by Durai on July 2, 2012

 

 

The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 which has brought in significant changes to more than half century old Copyright Act has omitted the words “other than a photograph” from Section 22 and also omitted Section 25 from the Copyright Act 1957.

Earlier position:

Hitherto the position of law limited the copyright in a photograph to sixty calendar years from the day the photograph was first published. The relevant extracts of old Act is set out hereunder:

Section 22 of the Copyright Act, 1957 (un-amended Act): –

Term of copyright in published literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works:-

Except as otherwise hereinafter provided, copyright shall subsist in any literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (other than a photograph) published within the lifetime of the author until sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the author dies.

Section 25 of the Copyright Act, 1957(un-amended Act): –

Term of copyright in photographs:-

In the case of a photograph, copyright shall subsist until sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the photograph is published.

Current Legal position:

The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012, which was published in the official gazette of India on 8.06.2012, has come into effect from the same date has omitted the words “other than a photograph” from Section 22 and also omitted Section 25 from the Copyright Act, 1957.

By omission of the words “other than a photograph” and Section 25 from the Copyright Act, 1957 the Parliament has extended the term of copyright in a photograph from 60 years to lifetime of the author i.e. the photographer and additionally 60 years from the date photographer dies.

For Instance, X clicks a picture in July, 2012 when he his at the age of 25 years and assuming he lives for 75 years. The copyright in the photograph will vest with X and after X’s demise with his legal heirs up to June 2122.

While the reason for extending the term of copyright was not made clear by the Parliament it is understood as India’s commitment to abide to the principles of WIPO Copyrights Treaty.  Whatever said it appears to be encouraging news from the Parliament to all the photographers.

 

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